I am a writer, as I have mentioned before, and I got lost on a project yesterday. I read a book a while back called “Outline Your Book Or Die” by Jim Driver and got inspired. I have read a few of his other books and they always inspire me to write. As usual, I was not paid to mention this book.
One of the techniques he uses to come up with story ideas is to look at Amazon’s bestseller lists and find a couple of the top 100 paid ebooks in your genre and create a new book based on that. Usually he changes the gender of the main character, the setting, and the basic story line so that the only thing his book has in common with the original is something like “amnesia”.
I did something similar. I found two different books on Amazon’s top 100 bestselling ebooks and combined their plots and added my own twist. I look to others for help and critique early in the process.
This will be my first time trying out the outline method used in the book mentioned above. There is the pre-work and then the 6 beginning stages.
The pre-work involves getting a general, workable idea for your story, a setting (time and place), a little background on a lead character or two, and
- Who is this for? (Identifying your target audience)
- Overview (a general synopsis of the story. You don’t have to have the ending or all the answers at this point)
- Ultimate Aims (What is each character’s goal?)
- Character Progression (Sometimes called a character arc. How does the character change due to the events in the story? How are they at the beginning versus the end of the story?)
- The Premise (Or theme. Often a cliche. “The heart wants what it wants” or “The pen is mightier than the sword” or “No good deed goes unpunished”.)
- Character Outlines (or biographies. What made the character who they are today? What past events changed them for better or worse?)
From there you brainstorm a list of scenes that need to go in your novel based on your overview and previous work. Then you either expand upon those scenes and add lots of detail, or add scenes to flesh out your novel. Then you flesh out those scenes until you have a very detailed outline so that your novel is easy to write.
I’m not sure if this is plagiarism, but all of these ideas are in Jim Driver’s book, “Outline Your Books or Die!”. I’m just repeating them, or paraphrasing them here.
I’m a little worried about this type of outlining because I tend to get bored with a novel if the outline has too much detail. This happened once before with a different outlining book and ended up with a half-filled notebook (120 pages) with details of a novel that could be as complicated as a trilogy, if I can figure out how to make the word count last into 3 books. And I barely wrote a word of the novel. I over planned so much that it took the fun out of writing the novel.
But that way had internal and external struggles and as you can see, this one does not. I have a really hard time with that form of character development. It just doesn’t make sense to me.
So here’s hoping that this outlining method works.